Embrace

A Long Distance Pillow that uses lighting and touch to connect loved ones that live apart.

Prompt: Design a product for people who live and work in a small space or away from home.

Problem

Keeping in contact with family can be a challenge to ones mental health. Neglecting this can really effect ones state of mind in a negative way by causing them to feel alone and depressed. Even if they do have time to talk to their loved ones, nothing beats the feeling of being with them in person.

Long distance relationships

People in long distance relationships face geographical separation often and lose the face to face contact that most partner or families experience.

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25% - 50% of LDR consist of college students

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79% of families use the internet to communicate

Non-verbal communication

Staying connected is not the same as feeling connected.

Humans tend to feel more connected with others not only through verbal communication but also through touch.

 

Studies show that one can communicate anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude, sympathy, happiness, and sadness through touch with a 78% percent accuracy.

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Families that live apart

James is constantly traveling for work and barely gets time with his family.

 

His work requires him to travel to other time zones which makes it hard to talk on the phone.

While he is away his young daughter, Ana, feels lonely and depressed without her father around. James must work to provide for his family but wishes they could all feel closer to each other.

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The Opportunity

Many busy families can't spend much time talking on the phone or through video chat, so an avenue of possibility presents itself.

 

I would like to design a product that uses non-verbal communication through lighting and touch to help bridge the long distance gap between loved ones.

The start of ideation

Each week we had many fun and interesting exercises exploring the different scenarios and situations our user would be in.

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A little detour

During ideation, I learned about how astronauts are very isolated from their families and so I decided to focus on those who live and/or work in space, far from their loved ones.

I began to sketch out different types of futuristic utility vests for them to move around the ISS and still link them to their families.

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I even explored how the vest would function on the astronauts back and also made a storyboard for this blue sky idea.

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However after I played around with this idea I decided to bring this concept back down to earth to address all of the other users who experience being away from their loved ones.

Design Challenge 1:

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Design Challenge 2:

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Design Challenge 3:

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Design Challenge 4:

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Design Challenge 5:

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Design Challenge 6:

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Playing with the form

I decided focus on the pillow itself and narrowed it down to my top 3 concepts. I wanted the pillow to feel as if the user is hugging another person and being hugged back but also didn't want it to look out of place in the living room.

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It was critical to explore the button placement because I wanted this pillow to fade into the setting of the room like it belonged there and not look like this awkward thing on the couch.

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Finally after going back and revising, I had my final concept that that looked unique in aesthetic yet natural within its environment.

feeling alone

Use of light

Familiar

forms

Existing technology

Haptic technology, also known as kinaesthetic communication or 3D touch, refers to any technology that can create an experience of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user.

Electroluminescent (EL) Panel (also called Light Boxes, Light Panels, Lite Panels and Luminescent Panels) are a paper thin laminated panels made from the element phosphor that creates a great glow when an electrical current and high frequency passes.

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Mock-up testing

I built a few mock-ups to experiment with the weight, size and shape of the pillow.

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I wanted to test the shape to see what would feel most like another person without it looking to creepy.

I even added weight pellets to induce a calming sense of relaxation.

I was also trying to figure out what would feel most comfortable for buttons and electronics on the inside.

Embrace

Embrace, the long distance pillow that keeps you closer to family.

Whether your in a long distance relationship or can't be with your grandparents because of Covid-19, Embrace is there to bridge the gap.

 

Embrace is a smart pillow that connects loved ones using El panel lighting and haptic feedback to stimulate touch.

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Mood

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Putting the pillow together

Drawing the patterns
Drawing the patterns

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Cutting out the pattern
Cutting out the pattern

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Drawing the patterns
Drawing the patterns

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Features

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Wireless charging is available on the backside of the pillow and stay magnetically connected.

A slow blinking circle of light will show that the pillow is charging. When it is fully charged the circle will stop blinking and become a solid.

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How it works

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Daniel sends a hug to his girlfriend Melissa.

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Daniel has Embrace on his living room couch.

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The left button lights up and Daniel long presses it to send his hug.

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Daniel sends a hug to his girlfriend Melissa.

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Melissa receives a hug from her boyfriend, Daniel.

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Melissa's Embrace pulses with a soft light to let her know she has a hug.

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The hug lasts for 5 seconds and then the light fades.

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Melissa receives a hug from her boyfriend, Daniel.

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Keeping loved ones together!

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Photo credit: Claudia Bazan

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Thank you!

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